Academy of Achievement Logo
Achiever Gallery
  The Arts
  Public Service
 + Science & Exploration
  My Role Model
  Recommended Books
  Academy Careers
Keys to Success
Achievement Podcasts
About the Academy
For Teachers

Search the site

Academy Careers


If you like Jane Goodall's story, you might also like:
Robert Ballard,
Lee Berger,
Susan Butcher,
Sylvia Earle,
Ruth Bader Ginsburg,
Stephen Jay Gould,
Edmund Hillary,
Donald Johanson,
Meave Leakey,
Richard Leakey,
Ernst Mayr,
Greg Mortenson,
Sally Ride,
Richard Schultes,
Tim White and
Edward O. Wilson

Jane Goodall can also be seen and heard in our Podcast Center

Jane Goodall's recommended reading:
The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle

Related Links:
Jane Goodall Institute
Roots and Shoots

Share This Page
  (Maximum 150 characters, 150 left)

Jane Goodall
Jane Goodall
Profile of Jane Goodall Biography of Jane Goodall Interview with Jane Goodall Jane Goodall Photo Gallery

Jane Goodall Interview (page: 8 / 9)

The Great Conservationist

Print Jane Goodall Interview Print Interview

  Jane Goodall

Where do you find the balance between limiting medical testing on chimpanzees and the importance of disease research to humankind?

Jane Goodall: It turns out that the vast percentage of animal experimentation has not benefited human health or animal health. And there is a whole body of research growing into ways of conducting medical experimentation, pharmaceutical testing, without using any live animals. When it comes to chimpanzees -- because they're so like us, because their DNA differs from ours by only just over one percent, because you could have a blood transfusion from a chimp if you match the blood groups, because the immune system is so like ours that they can catch or be infected with all known human diseases, because the brain is so like ours that it's just almost the same but a bit smaller -- they have been used as guinea pigs, to learn about diseases which otherwise are unique to us. Very little of that research has actually led to results that have benefited us.

Thousands have been used for HIV research, because you can put the human HIV 1 and HIV 2 into a chimp's blood, and the virus will stay alive, but the chimps don't get the symptoms of full-blown human AIDS. It has been established that HIV 1 and 2 came from two different chimp populations where a retrovirus mutated. It started off as the chimpanzee version of simian AIDS. But the research in the labs hasn't led to anything very useful in HIV/AIDS research.

It's basically been stopped. And it was one of the two who discovered the HIV retrovirus -- Bob Gallo and Luc Montagnier -- it was Bob Gallo who actually said at one of his big AIDS conferences in Arusha, Tanzania, "I am boxed in by inappropriate results from research on chimpanzees." He said that. He had done it himself, but that's what he said. And so, fortunately, because of the animal rights movement, there has been a flurry of research into alternatives. Computer simulation, cell culture, tissue culture, even organ culture. All kinds of things which are new ways of looking at disease and cures.

So there needs to be a new mindset, that the moment the animal researchers, the animal experimenters will say -- and they do say -- "We do admit that animals feel pain..." most of them say that now, and therefore, we use as few as possible and treat them as well as possible. We use them as far down the evolutionary scale as we can, but we'll always have to use some. I want us to say something different. I would rather we said, "We now admit that this research into animals, because what we know about what animals are, who they are, is inappropriate. It's cruel for the animal. It's very often torture from their perspective. So let's get together around the world, with these extraordinary brains that we have, and find ways of doing without them altogether as soon as we can." Now it's very different to work towards a goal to eliminate animals than it is to say, "Well, we'll always need some, but we'll try and use less." That's two different goals. And the goal that I want will say, "Okay. If that's the goal, then let's have some Nobel Prizes for these alternatives to animals." Let's have scientific approval instead of establishment pushing away, because they want to do things the way they've always been done, because it's a multibillion dollar industry.

One of the issues that the Jane Goodall Institute has brought to the world's attention is the conditions under which animals are kept in captivity.

Jane Goodall: The first time I went into a medical research lab, I was so shocked. I was so upset. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Little chimpanzees rocking from side to side in cages that were like microwave ovens, with a little slit of a window, and otherwise, just steel with air going through a vent. And when the doors opened, there was this chimpanzee with dead eyes rocking from side to side like this. And there were many of them in this condition. And there were monkeys in tiny cages going from side to side, from side to side, up and around. It was totally shocking. And although I knew about it, I wasn't prepared for what I saw. And that changed me completely and totally, and I realized that -- never mind the ethics of using them or not to study human diseases or cures -- the conditions in which they're kept, these conditions were totally, totally, totally inappropriate and absolutely inexcusable.

The first thing that I did after that visit was to sit down with all the -- it was the National Institutes of Health people. The top ones came for this visit, and I always sat at a table, and there was coffee on the table. And my mind was just reeling. I think I was probably trying not to cry. And there was dead silence. And I looked up, and I saw they were all waiting for me to say something. It was one of those terrible moments when, you know, what could I say with this emotion that was surging around inside me? And I said, "Well, I think every caring and compassionate human being will feel the same as I do about seeing animals in these conditions." It was actually brilliant, because if they disagreed with me they were basically saying they weren't caring, compassionate human beings. But at any rate, that led to the very first of the meetings between the medical research people, the veterinarians and the welfare people. And I got a lot of flack from animal rights people who believed I shouldn't be sitting around the table talking, that this was compromising my values to talk to them. How can you change people's attitudes if you don't talk to them? And in fact that lab, which was at that time called SEMA, was under the new directorship of a man who decided eventually that everything in the lab was wrong. Changed it completely. I talked to him last week. He said, "Jane, please come back. I really, really, really want you to see what we've done now." He said, "You said last time you came it was better." He said, "Now, I think you will really approve and appreciate of what we've done." He said, "Yeah, we still have the chimps there, but it's completely different." So you know, that was the first.

Those were all young chimps. Then I went to the LEMSIP, the lab in New York State, up in New York State, and that was the first time I saw chimpanzees, adult chimpanzees, in these five-foot by five-foot cages. And I was led in by the veterinaries. This lab, by the way, is closed now. There's none of the chimps left. And I was led into this torture chamber by the veterinarian, and he introduced me to Jo-Jo. He said Jo-Jo is very gentle. And he left me there, and I had to put on this white mask. I had gloves and a cap, and booties and a white coat. And I knelt down and looked at Jo-Jo. And if he'd been angry and mad, it might have been easier to bear, but he wasn't. He just had this slightly puzzled look in his eyes like, you know? And I just couldn't help thinking of the chimps at Gombe, their nests and the breeze and the stars in the sky. And what's he got? He's got bad concrete, no, he had iron bars on the floor, iron bars all around. One tire, motor tire; that was it. That was all that was in that cage. Nothing else. And so tears began to trickle down under my mask and he just reached out, this gentle finger and wiped them away, and sniffed his finger and wiped them away. And then the veterinarian came. He knelt down beside me and put his arm around me. He said, "I have to face this every day."

And that was where I realized that the people working in the labs, they're either completely hard and they stay because they don't care, or they leave if they can't take it. Most of them leave. Or they stay because they feel that they can do something for the chimps by staying, at least provide some friendship. It was one of those moments that you can never forget, and it just makes you go on struggling and doing what you can. A lot of those labs are now closed. Many more can be closed, but then those chimps all have to have sanctuaries. Money has to be raised, but it can be done. The chimps are not really being used much anymore.

Don't they have to be taught how to be chimps again once they leave that environment?

Jane Goodall Interview Photo
Jane Goodall: Once you take a chimp away from the mother and put them in these isolation cages, even if they hear each other across the corridor, they don't know how to be chimps. But you know, the lack of understanding is such... the best example I have was Bob Gallo. I'd heard there were some chimps kind of secretly in one of these places near Washington. And I said, "I can't get in there but you can, and I've heard there are some chimps, so could you go and see for me?" And he said yes, he would, and he did. And he describes walking with the director of that lab down a long corridor, rather dim and dark. And he said, "Jane, it was so many animals. There were dogs barking." He said, "I never realized. I'd never been to a place like that before." Because the scientists don't. They sit in their lab and they say, "I want this much blood from that kind of a chimp or that kind of a dog," or whatever it is. They don't see with their eyes what this is doing.

I said to Rob Gallo, "You know, you can't ask for things like this from a chimpanzee and not go and see the chimpanzee, to know what it's like, to know what you're doing, to know the condition this animal is living in, to see the stress which is probably affecting the immune systems which you are trying to study." At any rate, back to this long corridor, he's following the director and the director's trying to hurry him along. And Gallo sees these soap bubbles and he stopped. And again, the Director kind of tried to move him on. And Bob said, "Well, what's that?" And the Director said it's a soap bubble. He said, "Yes. I can see it's a soap bubble, but what's it doing here?" So anyway, he went back. Gallo went back. And there he said, "I saw this extraordinary scene." There was a very narrow room, and there was a chimpanzee, and it was rocking from side to side and banging its head on the wall like this. And there was a young woman in a white coat blowing soap bubbles. And so he said, "I said to the Director, well, what's she doing? And the Director said she's blowing soap bubbles." And Gallo said, "I can see she's blowing soap bubbles. Why is she blowing soap bubbles?" "Well there's all this new directive we've had. Jane Goodall's been creating... you know, we have to enrich the lives of these chimpanzees." So yes. Chimps living in sort of relatively freedom, love chasing soap bubbles. You know, if you have them in a good zoo or something like that, they think it's fun. This chimp is mentally deranged. It's like going into some kind of place where very, very disturbed people are. They wouldn't care two hoots about soap bubbles. So the ignorance, unbelievable ignorance. It boggles the mind, and it shows how much work there is to be done. And you know, the only way is to get into people's hearts. It's the only way. It doesn't work through the head.

Jane Goodall Interview, Page: 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   

This page last revised on Aug 20, 2009 16:01 EDT
How To Cite This Page